If you had a choice of enacting one change in the district, regardless of cost, what would it be and why?


If I had a choice to enact one change in the Metuchen School District, regardless of cost, it would be to centralize elementary schools in the district again and have each school go from grades K-6; have one Middle School for grades 7 and 8; and the high school with the state of the art computer accessibility, including Math and Science labs and classes where curriculum would be more hands on and exploratory. 




Experience has taught me that when making changes in our school district, the Board of Education must always look at cost.  It would be irresponsible to suggest adding additional programs without determining how the district would fund it.


There are changes that we could make in our district that would have little impact on our finances.  I am in favor of changing the weighting of midterm and final exams at the High School.  Currently, midterm and final exams each count as 1/6 of the students overall grade for the course.  Weighting these exams the same as each of the four cycle grades (10 weeks worth of work) often results in a lower overall final grade for the student.  Another change I am in favor of is adding additional electives to the High School curriculum and having some of the current electives be ½ year to give students more choices.


I always look at changes that would save the district money.  I think it's time to go "paperless" at all the schools (with the option to receive notices in paper form if requested) in the next school year.  This would reduce our expense for paper and postage.




A similar question was asked at the PT Council's "Meet the Candidates" night.  As I stated then, I am a pragmatist and, therefore, do not like to speculate on dream scenarios.  We all could provide a long list of what we would like to change or add to the district.  I prefer to stay in the realm of more realistic possibilities.  I would like to see additional course offerings at the high school.  Our students are faced with ever increasing competition for college placement opportunities and career options.  The availability of financial aid is very limited for most of our students.   Expanded course offerings would allow students to explore a greater number of disciplines and sub-disciplines prior to college.  This increased exposure may help them to more clearly define the areas that they may wish to explore in college.  The high school currently lacks a business curriculum.  This is an area that I believe would benefit a number of students, particularly since there are students who, whether we like it or not, will not choose to go directly to college.  In recognition of the desire of some students to explore other subjects, the superintendent and the Board have enlisted the use of Virtual Classrooms (on-line courses) where appropriate.




Because the new state high school graduation requirements will require a third lab science, I would like to see the addition of 2 or 3 Science labs at the high school.  I would also like to see a fitness center at Edgar to promote fitness among the younger students who do not participate in the middle school's sports program.  If the funds were to be ongoing, implementing full day Kindergarten would be a consideration, but we must be able to justify the cost and the academic benefits of the program and gain consensus from the community.




I think Metuchen's most pressing concern is whether the current configuration of our schools and classrooms will accommodate the dramatic growth in our town. Our average class size is 24 students, well over the state average of 20 for optimal education. The administration's enrollment figures show that 300 students have been added to the school system in the last 10 years. Not only do we have additional significant developments planned in town, but the students that have incrementally joined our district throughout the past decade have not been included in any recent planning.


The Metuchen School District needs a solid five-year plan for its own future development, one that remains current and is publicly available for review. A 7th section of half day kindergarten is being added for the 09-10 school year; 142 children are currently enrolled. From 20-40 children typically join the class prior to the beginning of first grade. As early as the 2010-2011 school year, Metuchen may need an additional classroom for each grade--even before any new town development breaks ground.


We need to set goals that will allow us to accommodate the students we have enrolled in addition to forecasting the growth we will experience within the next five years, which will put further burden on both the students and teachers if not planned for accordingly.

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